National identity in a foreign context: Irish women accounting for their children’s national identity in England

Meabh NiMaolalaidh, Clifford Stevenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
349 Downloads (Pure)


Social psychologists have attempted to capture the ideological quality of the nation through a consideration of its taken-for-granted quality, whereby it forms an unnoticed ‘banal’ background to everyday life and is passively absorbed by its members in contrast to its ‘hot’, politically created and contested nature. Accordingly, national identity is assumed to be both passively absorbed from the national backdrop and actively acquired through national inculcation. This raises the question of how national identity is expressed, transmitted and acquired in a foreign context, where the banal national backdrop is unavailable to scaffold identity and the national resources for identity transmission may be unavailable. The present article addresses this gap by examining the situation of Irish women raising children in England. Critical discursive analyses of the 16 interviews revealed that all women treated their children’s national identity and the issue of transmitting identity as dilemmatic: passive transmission risks children passively absorbing English, but active transmission contravenes the assumed naturalness of national identity and can furthermore conflict with children’s own personal choice. These results point to the complex interaction between the management of national identity and the broader personal and national context within which this occurs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-262
Number of pages18
JournalDiscourse & Society
Issue number2
Early online date31 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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